News

By Marina Villeneuve, The Associated Press

AUGUSTA, Maine — Two new political groups are ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars on door-to-door canvassing and contributions ahead of this fall’s statewide election.

Maine legislative candidates will vie for seats and control of the chambers this November. New political action committees include a California progressive group that supported independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid and a pro-tax reform group linked to GOP Gov. Paul LePage.

It’s Thursday and time for Across the Aisle, our weekly roundtable on politics.

This week: Dick Woodbury, an economist who served in the Legislature as an independent; Meredith Strang Burgess of Burgess Advertising and Marketing, who was a Republican lawmaker; and attorney Cynthia Dill, who served in Augusta as a Democrat.

PORTLAND, Maine - The federal government says more than 1 million Mainers are currently dealing with drought conditions.

The latest report by the U.S. Drought Monitor says 80 percent of the state's population is affected by moderate to extreme drought.

The report Thursday says almost 10 percent of the state, including Cumberland, York and Sagadahoc counties, is in an "extreme drought.'' The entire area experiencing moderate to extreme drought now runs from York County eastward to part of Washington County.

FARMINGTON, Maine - The associate director for the Maine Office of Substance Abuse is facing a charge of operating under the influence.

Police say 62-year-old Joan Smyrski of Jefferson was charged with drunken driving after being stopped Sunday evening in the Franklin County town of Avon. She was freed on $150 cash bail.

The Sun Journal reports that Smyrski is scheduled to speak about opioid-prescribing limits at the Maine Nurse Practitioner Association's annual fall conference in November.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin was among members of the House Financial Services Committee who harshly criticized Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. 

Stumpf has come under fire for bilking customers after the bank opened accounts without customers' permission.

“I’m looking at this pattern of you folks ripping off your customers, getting caught, paying a fine and doing the damn thing all over again,” Poliquin said.

Advocates for Maine’s public campaign finance program are touting what they say is a significant decrease in private donations to candidates vying for seats in the state Legislature.

Andrew Bossie with Maine Citizens for Clean Elections says the 22 percent dip in private donations correlates with increased participation in the state’s clean election program.

An organization that works with southern Maine’s refugee and immigrant communities is getting $300,000 to work with survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

The Immigration Resource Center of Maine in Lewiston, formerly called United Somali Women of Maine, will use the grant from the federal Office on Violence Against Women to maintain and expand its culturally specific sexual assault services for East African sex assault victims living in Southern Maine.

LEWISTON, Maine - The United States Department of Agriculture is committing nearly $400,000 to increase food access for the Somali community in Lewiston.

Members of the Somali Bantu community in the city are partnering with the Cumberland County Food Security Council on the project. The funding is expected to support Somalis' agriculture and help them reconnect with their cultural heritage.

Bill Trotter / Bangor Daily News

By Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News

GOULDSBORO, Maine — A month after she donated 87,000 acres in northern Penobscot County to the National Park Service to create Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, philanthropist Roxanne Quimby has bought an oceanside campground near here that she plans to reopen.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Community College System has requested a 13 percent increase in state funding with a bulk of the new money set to go toward the expansion of workforce development programs.

The Portland Press Herald reports Maine’s allocation to the seven-campus system would jump from $62 million in 2017 to $70 million in 2019 if the increase is approved by lawmakers.

Maine Public/File

For this campaign season, MPBN is reuniting Sam Surprise and Brenda Garrand for their takes on campaign advertising. Surprise heads Surprise Advertising, Garrand is president of Garrand & Company.

We return to the race between Republican incumbent Bruce Poliquin and Democratic challenger Emily Cain. As Garrand tells Maine Public Radio’s Irwin Gratz, that’s because some campaigns have yet to engage.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — Maine State Police say they’ve charged an 18-year-old Manchester man with driving a Dodge Neon at 146 mph on Interstate 95. That’s more than twice the 70-mph speed limit.

Police say 18-year-old Tyler Barrows was stopped in Pittsfield, Maine, on Wednesday and was charged with criminal speeding, a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

A panel created by an executive order fro Gov. Paul LePage has rejected his assertion that the Maine Human Rights Commission has been biased in the way it treats complaints, with a particular bias against businesses.

Amy Sneirson, executive director of the independent agency, says the report is helpful in recommending more staff and new equipment.

“I think it is very helpful to see what an objective group of folks found when they looked at us, and I think our commissioners will find it very interesting,” she says.

Steve Mistler / Maine Public

Ranked-choice voting sounds simple: Grab a ballot, rank the candidates in order of preference and, when someone gets a majority, they win.

Maine Public

The Maine Association of Broadcasters has announced the recipients of the 2016 MAB News and Creative Awards, honoring the best of Maine broadcasting. Maine Public received five awards across a broad range of specialties in the competition’s Television category.

Each year the Maine Association of Broadcasters honors “the best of the best” work from member stations based on the judging results from state broadcast associations in other states. The 2016 awards reflect work completed between June 2015 and May 2016.

Pages